It seems very early to be talking about next year's classics, but Kingman, the current 7/1 favourite with Sky Bet for next year's 2000 Guineas is the star of the show at Sandown as he heads a field of just four in the Solario Stakes on Saturday.
He is trained by John Gosden who has a decent record in this race with three winners to date. This colt comes here unbeaten having won on his only start over this trip of seven furlongs at Newmarket in June where he beat two subsequent winners. It's hard to talk about taking antepost prices about him at the moment, but he's done nothing wrong.
It's great to see James Doyle being given the retainer to ride owner Khalid Abdullah's British trained horses and as a result he rides the colt for the first time. Doyle has really impressed this season with his handling of Al Kazeem and he deserves a big job.
So what of the other three runners? Godolphin are represented by the Saeed bin Suroor trained Emirates Flyer and Charlie Appleby's Music Theory. Music Theory seems the pick of the duo having won his last two starts after a second place on his debut.
He won very easily over this seven furlong trip last time out. Emirates Flyer has won twice from four starts, but came unstuck in Listed company at Ascot last month. Bin Suroor was quoted in the past saying he would have to improve a lot to contest group races so that is worth bearing in mind. The field is completed by the Mick Channon trained Rosso Corsa who was fourth in the Vintage Stakes at Glorious Goodwood last time out and is much more exposed than the others. So, not a great betting heat, but small runner fields can be tricky affairs so it may pay to take the favourite on although it seems everything points to a huge run from the much hyped Gosden horse. I'll go with Music Theory to cause an upset.
Staying at Sandown and the Group 3 Atalanta Stakes has attracted 11 fillies and mares for this challenge over a mile. Zibelina is another horse defending an unbeaten record. Charlie Appleby trains her for the Godolphin team and he'll be hoping for a good day. This filly comes here having won all three of her outings including in a Group 3 at Deauville last time out.
Her main rival looks to be Integral who represents the powerful team of Sir Michael Stoute and Ryan Moore. She won her first two starts over this mile trip but lost nothing in defeat over a mile and a quarter in the Group 1 Nassau Stakes last time out when not getting the clearest run and finishing 5 ½ lengths behind winner Winsili. Lady Jane Cecil's Chigun is another with a little chance.
She may find things tough with a 4lb penalty which means she gives weight to all of her rivals and has to put two disappointing runs behind her. Lady's First could run into a place for the inform Richard Fahey yard. His horses are on fire at the moment and this filly was second in this race last year so she could be one for each way punters. I'm going to go with Integral to win it, she takes a drop in trip and grade and has the strongest form on offer.
At 3.50pm there is a competitive mile and a quarter handicap. It looks wide open, but I think top weight Trade Commissioner can run well. He has only had the three starts this season, beginning with a good effort in the Hunt Cup before a run in Listed company and in a conditions stakes. This trip suits him and he is in the Cambridgeshire so I hope he runs well. Mark Johnston's Sennockian Star is tough and ultra consistent but is paying the price in the handicap as a result. Luca Cumani trains Gabrial the Great for Dr Marwan Koukash, another horse who is creeping up the ratings but with the added complication that he isn't the most straightforward.
Labarinto could be another to watch out for. Sir Michael Stoute trains but he has to bounce back from a moderate effort behind Sennockian Star and Gabrial the Great. John Smith's Cup winner Danchai is another who warrants respect for William Haggas. He was behind a few of these at Haydock last time, he was hampered but beaten at the time. He's 7lbs higher for his York success and has to put his latest poor effort behind him. I'm going with Trade Commissioner for John Gosden.
Moving onto Sunday and the feature is the Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh where we may get more classic clues for next year. This time it's the potential 1000 Guineas contenders advertising their ability and it's usually a reliable race. This seven furlong Group 1 was won last year by Sky Lantern.
Kiyoshi and Tapestry are aiming to follow in her footsteps. They dominate the top of the market for the Guineas and it's great to see them take each other on here. The bookmakers are finding it hard to split them for Sunday's race though with Kiyoshi 7/4 and Tapestry 13/8.
Let's start with Kiyoshi who travels over from the Lambourn yard of Charlie Hills. Owned by the powerful and emerging owners Qatar Racing Ltd she has already gone some way to paying off her 80,000 guineas purchase price with wins in a Goodwood maiden and then the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot. She won the latter easily but did hang right in the closing stages and you would just hope that was still greenness and not a sign that she is slightly wayward. Whatever the case that was an impressive piece of form that has worked out incredibly well and she is out of the top drawer.
Tapestry is unbeaten to date for Aidan O'Brien and was supplemented for this race earlier in the week. She won the Debutante Stakes over this course and distance last time out so she has local knowledge in her favour and the added advantage of travelling a short distance to the track. The Debutante second, her stablemate Perhaps, could also run here. It looks on paper to be between these two but there are some other smart fillies entered including Clive Brittain's Queen Mary winner Rizeena who steps up to seven furlongs for the first time having finished third behind No Nay Never in the Morny last time out over six.
She was staying on there and the step up shouldn't be a problem. If Dermot Weld's Carla Bianca run she is interesting as her trainer has only run her once before when she was second in a maiden. This is a big step up for this daughter of Dansili but she showed promise on that run over this course and distance and is sure to have improve plenty. This is the toughest test to date for Tapestry and she takes on a very smart filly in Kiyoshi who looks very smart also. The fact that Kiyoshi hung badly last time is just swaying me towards Tapestry, but it's a tough one to call.
It was great to see Dan Skelton send out his first runner this week after taking the bold move to set up training on his own. He has a superb grounding having assisted Paul Nicholls for the past nine years. He has set up at his father's farm in Warwickshire and for those that don't know, his Dad is Olympic Gold medal winning show jumper Nick Skelton and he will be helping his son out - one thing's for sure the horses should be able to jump! Dan has amazing facilites and a good back up team so I'd expect him to be making an impact soon. He saddles 2009 Country Hurdle winner American Trilogy in Newton Abbot's 2m 6f Handicap Hurdle on Sunday and says he has some nice young horses to run this season too. If anyone can make it work he should be able to and I'm sure Sky Sports News will be paying him a visit in the near future to take a closer looks at his set up.
Finally, watch out for the Sky Sports News racehorse, On Demand, as she makes her debut this coming week. Having followed her progress over the past few months it's been great to see her blossom from an attractive if feisty yearling, to a sleek, fit professional who looks ready to hit the track. I went to see her on Thursday as she did her final bit of stalls work and she took it all in her stride and jumped out well.
She has grown a lot this summer which is why she is only making it to the track now, she's tall, but she looks the real deal and I hope I picked the right horse for you to follow. All we need now is some decent ground as she wouldn't want it too fast. She has been pencilled in for a race at Lingfield on Wednesday but as they gallop downhill there you wouldn't want to see ground with any jar in it. As a result she also has back up plans with options at both Haydock and Salisbury.
Her trainer Andrew Balding expects her to benefit from the experience, so it won't be disappointing if she doesn't win first time out. However, Andrew has had a few 2yo winners of late and he says she compares favourably with them, so I hope she can win one or two before the season is out.
Music Theory in the Solario Stakes @ 3/1 with Sky Bet
Integral in the Atalanta Stakes
Trade Commissioner in the mile and a quarter handicap
Tapestry in the Moyglare Stud Stakes @ 13/8 with Sky Bet
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